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1.18.2011

What do you think?

I saw this on Night Line tonight:

Scout's Death on Hike In Heat Triggers Lawsuit

My gut reaction was that the parents are overreacting.  They are upset and grieving and want someone to blame.  Bad things happen sometimes for no reason and we are unfortunately programmed to blame (and then sue) the person or entity we think is responsible for our misfortune, regardless of how responsible that person or entity actually is.

Boy Scouts hike and camp and do other various outdoor activities that involve risk.  As a fellow mother I can't even imagine what these parents are going through, but I don't think that blame and litigation solve anything in this situation.  The Boy Scouts aren't purposely putting kids in danger or obviously doing anything else that should make them culpable.

And further, I think that this sets a dangerous precedent.  Horrible things happen all the time that are outside of anyone's control (or specifically outside the control of the responsible adult).  What if my daughter has a friend over who has an asthma attack and ends up in the hospital.  In this hypothetical situation I didn't have her inhaler.  And since I don't have kids with asthma I didn't recognize the wheezing right away.  Is it okay for the parents to sue me because I let their asthmatic daughter run around with my kids?  (PS- this would never happen because 1) we own an inhaler, 2) I know what wheezing sounds like, and 3) I have a detailed action plan for severe asthma episodes/anaphylactic shock... because I'm a control freak).  Before long kids won't have the opportunity to take any risks, like going on hikes and camping and doing other activities away from their parents because everyone will be afraid of liability. 

Why is this dangerous?  Taking risks is an important part of growing up.  Kids learn and develop skills from taking reasonable.  They have important experiences and make memories.  Are we headed towards a world where kids aren't able to have experiences?  Where the Boy Scouts don't exist?  I hope not.

But am I being callous?  What do you think?

1 comment:

Greenmom said...

I think there's WAY not enough real substantive information to make a call one way or the other...I wish media outlets wouldn't try so hard to make us do exactly that before any real data has been collected or disseminated...

I don't think you're callous. It's possible the scout leader screwed up royally; it's also possible that the young man had a medical condition no one knew about. Or, I hate to say, that he himself made some poor decisions that no one knew about...we just don't know.

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